My husband was excited and kept egging me on, but I was pretty nervous. This was the sort of thing that tested your marriage, and the only thing standing between us and defeat was our ability to work as a team. Finally, I agreed to play Spaceteam with him.
Spaceteam has been on iOS since last year, but it released an update recently that added support for iOS 7 and Android. This allows the game to be played in a multi-OS household.
There are no solo missions. The game requires two to four players connected on the same Wi-Fi network or via Bluetooth. Experimental modes will add support for up to 8 players on Wi-Fi, perhaps 6 or 7 on Bluetooth. We played over Wi-Fi, and the game immediately detects how many others on the same network are playing. Apple and Android logos in the corner show how many are playing and what platform they're on.
The game is like an extreme version of Nintendo's Warioware: Smooth Moves. You receive a set of instructions to execute before you're swallowed by a supernova, smacked by an asteroid or devoured by a wormhole. Unlike Warioware, you're actually shouting these instructions to your partners -- who has panels that you don't -- while trying to listen to orders from the other people in the game.
The game quickly places stress on your team, with broken panels swinging wildly that you have to fix, broken translator circuits, complex picture symbols to be deciphered and goo you have to swipe away. At the same time, you're shaking your tablet or twisting it upside down to avoid other disasters.
Then there are the pilot errors. My husband kept turning off his tablet by accident while I dropped my iPad by flipping it in my hands too fast. I don't even want to know what the neighbors were thinking as we shouted commands such as "vent your frustration," "set the sigmaclapper to 2" and other technobabble at 2 a.m.
My biggest issue with the game is that it could really use a help screen. We weren't sure of the correct way to twist the iPad to avoid the magnetic fields until I Googled it (for newbies, just turn your iPad upside down so the home button is facing up), and a basic rundown of the symbols would be nice.
Spaceteam is a free download with a number of US$.99 in-app purchases that adds on to your ship and unlocks different challenges. You can play on both iPhone and iPad, but I prefer the larger screen of the iPad -- especially as the game went from pretty easy to hard to oh-my-god-driving-in-Manhattan-is-easier.
We made it through 11 stages on our best effort before we were finally killed because of our failure to understand alien languages. After each level, Mike gasped, "Oh my God!" while I tried to calm my racing heart. As we were awarded our posthumous medals -- him for valor and me for agility -- he immediately asked if we could play it with four people. "It'll be nuts," he vowed.
He's absolutely right.